What’s Love Got To Do With It?

By: Rochelle Perper, Ph.D. | August 16, 2019

“What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner (1984) was, and still is, one of the most iconic female ballads. What’s surprising about the catchy, upbeat tune is that it’s actually an anti-love song about a woman who feels no emotional attachments to her lover. She wants him to know that love has nothing to do with how she feels about him, which she dismisses as a “sweet, old-fashioned notion.”

Tina’s manager brought her the song, with it wanting Tina to get back on the charts with a hit. But Tina hated the song, never wanting to record it in the first place. The good news: It worked! The song became Tina’s first top-10 single since the early 70s and helped to earn her a Grammy.

But what’s the message here? What does love have to do with anything, after all? Can we really go throughout our lives doing things outside of love to expect something great in return? And, what can love really do for us?

What does it mean to act with love?

 “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Acting with love means that you do something not because you have to or need to, but because you want to. You do it because a strong desire genuinely motivates you to be there for someone else while expecting nothing in return. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to think “What’s in it for me?” rather than considering what we can offer to share with others.

Acting with love extends beyond romantic relationships. It encompasses how we show up for others, how we do business, even how we treat strangers. Acting with love represents the choice to demonstrate care, attention, and sensitivity in what we do.

What is the benefit of acting with love?

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

We don’t feel good when we do things under pressure or if we feel obligation. When we can find a way to do things out of love, we feel freer, open ourselves up to receive love, and elicit a more relaxed, calm response from others.

When we do things out of love, we enjoy deeper, more enriched relationships and find meaning in our lives. When you put your heart into what you’re doing – and are willing to give first – you will get back proportionally, stay motivated by the satisfaction you feel, and feel genuinely good about yourself.

How do I act with love?

In her book, The Gift of Imperfection, Dr. Brené Brown defines love as a “spiritual connection that grows from offering trust, respect, kindness, and affection.” Operating from love demonstrates the courage to set aside our ego long enough to listen to another person’s point of view. It’s understanding where they are coming from, opening your heart to their pain, and relating by putting ourselves in their shoes.

Examples of ways to act with love:

  • Give a sincere compliment to someone not expecting one in return.
  • Ask questions and show authentic curiosity about another person’s interest.
  • Just
  • Offer a generous, enthusiastic hug.
  • Stop criticizing or blaming when someone or something upsets Rather, state the complaint and offer suggestions for change.
  • Consider what works well before focusing on what went wrong.
  • Resist the urge to jump to conclusions and entertain the possibility of the other person not having intended to cause hurt.
  • Operate with integrity.
  • Be reflective and take responsibility for your part of the problem instead of becoming defensive or striking back.
  • Appreciate each person’s unique worldview and work toward compassion rather than judgment.
  • Approach others gently when setting boundaries. Instead of highlighting the other person’s wrongdoings, focus on what you need to do yourself.
  • Take care of yourself. Showing love to yourself first will make it easier to live your life through love.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Or others also. We all make mistakes, a part of what makes us all humans. Practice tolerance and grace when things go awry.
  • Take your time. Reflect, relax, and be grateful for the good things that life has to offer.

Choosing to act with love requires lifelong practice. And, it’s not easy. Unresolved guilt, pain, betrayal, grief, or trauma may block your ability to find ways to do things with love. Working with a therapist who can empathetically guide and support you in a direction of love can produce extraordinary rewards.

Practice doing things out of love by using opportunities that present themselves in the tiny moments that happen every day. You will love that you did.

What’s love got to do with it? Well…just about everything!


Image: jchapiewsky on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

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